Detroit — Tyler Collins stood before the assembled media after the Tigers’ 7-3 win Monday and answered every question. He was emotional, he was sincere and, most of all, he was sorry.
“I’m absolutely embarrassed that happened and I am very sorry,” he said. “To everybody in Detroit. I just want you guys to understand, I love this team. I want to win. So when we come home and get booed, it’s tough to swallow.
“But like I said, I apologize completely. I’m embarrassed at myself. I know my family is embarrassed and I’m sure these guys are, too. I’m sorry it happened.”
Here’s what happened: Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann cruised through five scoreless innings — running his scoreless innings streak to 24 1/3. Marcus Semien led off the sixth with a routine fly ball to center field that Collins lost in the lights.
“It got up in those high skies, that dusk period,” Collins said. “Nobody — I’m looking around screaming ‘I don’t see it.’ Nobody else sees it. It was unfortunate.”
Semien ended up on third after left fielder Justin Upton couldn’t pick the ball up cleanly and Zimmermann’s streak ended when the next hitter, Billy Burns, singled.
Before that, though, Collins was serenaded with boos by the crowd and he responded with some choice expletives and an obscene gesture.
“When Zim’s cruising, and we’ve got a 6-0 lead, nobody wants that ball to get lost less than me. Nobody does,” he said. “That hurts. And to be at home, and to hear boos after that play, hit a trigger inside of me, and I lashed out — completely inappropriately.”
And it was all caught on camera and almost instantly trending on social media sites.
“Clearly, that’s something that cannot happen,” said manager Brad Ausmus, who talked to Collins both in the dugout between innings and after the game. “He regrets it. It was an emotional reaction. He knew it was wrong. He just screwed up. He’s a young guy and he screwed up.”
Ausmus didn’t immediately remove Collins, though he did take him out for a defensive upgrade (Anthony Gose) in the ninth.
“I can’t make strategy moves based on that,” Ausmus said. “If something happens and I come up short a player, then that looks pretty lame-brained. But it was addressed.”
Of his postgame meeting with Ausmus, Collins said, “He said, ‘You’re a grown man. You have to handle yourself like it whether you agree with what’s going on or not.’ And he’s 100-percent right. I lashed out. Whether I’m happy about what happened or not. I shouldn’t have done that.”
Collins had a rough night all the way around, going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. That, he said, had nothing to do with his reaction in the sixth inning.
“No, we’re in the driver’s seat. We’re beating these guys,” he said. “That has nothing to do with it. It was just, like I said, these guys are my family, and I want everybody in this clubhouse to be the best baseball player in the whole wide world.
“So when Zimm’s cruising like he was, to hear boos come from the home crowd, set off a fuse inside of me, and I lashed out, and I shouldn’t have.”
He was asked where he thought this incident would go from this point forward.
“There’s tomorrow,” Collins said. “What are you going to do? People are going to feel the way they feel, so I’ve got to come to the yard ready to play tomorrow.”